Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

2nd String Quartet Streepjes; Voetnoot 1 for piccolo; Temet (flute, violin, cello, Harp); Octet; Klotz (violin, high-hat & ensemble); Veranderingen (Gerard Bouwhuis & Cees van Zeeland pianos)
Various artists.
Donemus Composers' Voice CV 61 [73.37] (PGW)
Amazon US

Here is a splendidly entertaining and thought provoking CD to introduce Guus Janssen (b.1951), a Dutch composer featured at Huddersfield Festival in a portrait concert, which featured several of the works played in this collection by some of the same artists as here, the Mondrian String Quartet with members of the Nieuw Ensemble. Janssen is a good natured iconoclast, neither minimalist nor ever sentimental. His quirkiness is something of the same order as our Jonathan Lloyd, who tends to get his pieces played once or twice but afterwards passed over by establishment programme planners. Janssen re-invents familiar instruments and ensembles for his compositions and avoids repeating himself.

For Streepjes he tunes the sixteen strings of a string quartet so as to make a newly-created overtone instrument, and he reserves the 'rounded violin sound' of non-harmonics played ordinario, (forte with molto vibrato) as a special effect, overturning normality. Temet ('almost') is a quest for a true octave for a harp with one string mistuned a quartertone sharp and flute, violin & cello, and it scrunches even more agonisingly as recorded here than when cushioned by the sympathetic acoustic of St Paul's Hall at Huddersfield. Janssen's Octet has wrong notes, which retrospectively become right ones. In the concert for one item Guus Janssen on piano accompanied violin & cello modestly; here he contents himself by playing high-hat (foot-operated cymbals) in Klotz with a hesitant violinist -a part tailor-made for Gidon Kremer who commissioned it. The largest work here is a set of two-piano variations, Veranderingen, nine of them on a chordal sequence, teeming with inventiveness and given a compelling account by Gerard Bouwhuis & Cees van Zeeland.

The booklet cover has problems with its orientation, with a windmill on its side and a river going up or down - or is it the titles which are misaligned? Nothing straightforward with Janssen, yet nor is anything too obscure to grasp readily.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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